Twitter to provide its own photo sharing

Twitter messages may be limited to a few characters, but many users have employed them to link to online images served by third-party firms. Now the social networking and micro-blogging service may cut out the middleman and provide those photo links itself, according to online reports.

A story first reported by TechCrunch and then confirmed by the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D says Twitter will announce a photo-sharing service at the D9 conference this week.

Twitter users now link their tweets to photo hosting services such as Twitpic, ImageShack’s Yfrog, Instagram and Flickr.

Twitter launched in 2006.


Facebook Photos used 5 times more than all competitors

Facebook reportedly serves five or six times more photos than every other product on the web — combined.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook Photos a key catalyst that led to everything the social network is today, reports the TechCrunch news site.

Facebook lacked higher resolutions and printing — but the social element changed everything. “Those features by themselves were more important than anything else combined,” Zuckerberg said.

More information is here.



Profile pics make up 10 percent of Facebook photos

Ten percent of all Facebook photos are profile pictures, reports the “photo discovery” service Pixable.

The number of profile photos uploaded per user has tripled since 2006. Women upload photos every two weeks, while men do every three weeks.

Pixable works with the Facebook Photos feature, and has 800,000 users. We’ll have more on the company in the next issue of The 6Sight magazine.

It’s detailed infographic is here.



Leica pocket cam provide GPS, 3D, and 16x zoom

With a a16x lens zooms from the equivalent of 24 to 384 mm, Leica Camera AG’s latest compact is billed as “the ideal companion for all life’s moments” — and can capture them quickly with consecutive burst shooting at ten frames per second at full resolution.

The 14 megapixel V-Lux 30’s long lens is optically stabilized. The camera also has integrated GPS to geotag photos, and displays on its 3-inch touchscreen sightseeing highlights of immediate surrounding, with one million points of interest.

It captures 1080i-AVCHD HD video, and the stereo microphone has an electronic wind noise filter to “guarantee a crystal-clear soundtrack,” the company says.

Also, a 3D mode combines two suitable shots from a sequence in a stereo image pair and saves them as a 3D image in the MPO format.

The $750 camera measures 4.13 by 2.27 by 1.31 inches.



Smartphone use grows photo activity

Research firm InfoTrends reports smartphone penetration “is growing by leaps and bounds,” and adds this is “good news for the photo industry, because smartphone users are very photo active, taking over twice as many photos as camera phone users.

InfoTrends’ April 2011 end-user survey on mobile imaging found the share of respondents who owned smartphones jumped from 16 percent in 2010 to 24 percent this year. “This represents an amazing year-over-year growth rate of 50 percent,” the company says.

InfoTrends’ Barb Pellow will head our Photo Publishing Summit at the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference on June 20-22.



YouTube to support Nvidia 3D

No longer limited to red/green anaglyph glasses, YouTube will support stereoscopic 3D vision technology from Nvidia.

There are already more than 6,000 3D videos n YouTube, although in other format.

Nvidia 3D vision requires a specialized PC graphics card and active shutter glasses. Nvidia already has a dedicated site,

More information is here.



Snapfish selling stock images

HP’s  Snapfish online photo service is working with LicenseStream’s automated licensing and royalty payment platform.

Snapfish Stock Images will “provide an opportunity for contributors to have their photography licensed and monetized,” the company says, “while offering professional image buyers a vast collection of new imagery to visually enhance their business communications.”

Snapfish says it will offer training and development webinars based on buyer desired criteria, so professional image buyers can find the most relevant and timely content for their businesses.

The stock image market represents $1.8 billion to $2 billion in sales annually and the microstock category is roughly estimated to have generated $400 million in revenues in 2010, HP says.

Contributors earn up to 60 percent of the licensed revenue from each photo sold through the site. HP says this is “significantly more than the market rate of 15 to 45 percent currently paid by competitors in the stock photography market.”

Snapfish reports more than 100 million members in 22 countries.



Photojojo places pics in a time capsule

All those photos you’ve taken to never see again can be given new life with the Photo Time Capsule from Photojojo.

“Now you don’t take a few photos at a time, you take a few dozen,” the company says. “You may even take a photo every day. But every photo’s still precious. And it’s kind of sad that when you take so many photos, you tend to forget that. That’s why we made the Photo Time Capsule.”

The free online service ties in with a Flickr account to show shots perhaps forgotten (and hopefully not those best left that way)!

Every couple weeks, the Time Capsule looks at your Flickr account for photos you took a year ago. It picks the ones that are most interesting, the company says — the ones that got viewed the most, favorited the most, and commented on the most — and sends them to you in email. “You’ll be amazed by how wonderful it is to get a photo blast from the past.”



360-degree video accessory for iPhone

The iPhone can capture immersive, fully navigable, panoramic video in real-time with the Dot, which Kogeto says is the world’s smallest 360-degree panoramic video accessory for the iPhone 4.

“We wanted to give users a way to capture their environment that simply isn’t possible with an ordinary camera,” the company says. “Dot is not only sleek and easy to use, it puts a whole new kind of video capture into the hands of everyday people.”

The $99 custom optic automatically aligns with the built-in iPhone 4 camera, Kogeto says, without adding significant bulk to the iPhone’s sleek design. “Aesthetically elegant, minimalist and unobtrusive; even the most particular iPhone 4 users can leave Dot permanently attached.” The 15-gram accessory is made out of polycarbonate plastic.

The Looker iPhone application integrates with Kogeto’s web platform to provides the Dot user “with a complete ecosystem to shoot, browse and share panoramic videos,” the company says.

The Pittsburgh-based Kogeto says its Lucy panoramic video cameras is used in hundreds of schools around the country, “Dot represents the next step in Kogeto’s mission to put panoramic video technology in the hands of as many people as possible.”



Samsung explores 3D video

Samsung Electronics America says its “Explore 3D” app on the SmartHub interface offers access to “dozens of pieces of free 3D content” including trailers, music videos, and educational content.

The video on demand service works on 2010 and 2011 LED Smart 3D TVs and Plasma Smart 3D TVs.

Later this year, Explore 3D will also offer access to paid content available in streaming 3D, Samsung says, including feature films and shorts, plus full-length 3D documentaries.  Users simply sign up for a new account via any PC.

[For more on the latest 3D displays, my old boss Michael Miller reports from the Display Week show.]



ACD offers all-in-one photo editing and management

ACD Systems says its ACDSee Pro 4 is the most complete solution for the enhancement and control of image production demanded by professional photographers.

The Windows software “lets photographers create, organize and distribute the highest quality images so that they can increase revenues while enhancing their reputations and market reach,” the company says.

Also, ACD says its patent-pending LCE (Lighting and Contrast Enhancement) single exposure HDR algorithms, built into Pro 4, “give users a simple and efficient means of dramatically improving lighting and contrast in photos.”

The $240 image management tool works with more than 100 file types.


Facebook patents photo tagging method

Facebook received a patent for its method of selecting a region in a photo or video and associating people or other entities with it.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent nearly five years after the company originally filed for the invention.

“Zuckerberg has long talked about photo tagging as the innovation that helped him and other early Facebook employees initially conceive of the idea for the platform” reports the Inside Facebook news site. “The company did a competitive analysis of all other photo products out on the web and while Facebook didn’t offer features like high resolution or printing, it still out-competed rivals simply because it centered its product around people, and not around technical capabilities.”

More information is here.

The patent in full is here.


Lightfinder surveils in darkness

Axis Communications calls its Lightfinder technology “a revolutionary improvement in surveillance cameras” that allows the IP surveillance camera to see detail and color in low-light conditions.

There are many situations where surveillance video with color is an important factor for successful identification, the company says, and this capability greatly enhances the user’s ability to effectively identify people, vehicles and incidents.

The fixed network camera delivers progressive scan image quality at 720 by 576 resolution in both indoor and outdoor applications and where light is poor.

The indoor Q1602 and the outdoor-ready Q1602-E deliver multiple, individually configurable H.264 and Motion JPEG video streams simultaneously. The cameras will be available in Q3 2011 starting at $999 from Axis.



Minox captures wildlife

The DTC 500 from Minox captures outdoor photographs to “keep track of animal activities around the clock.”


The camera is an extremely helpful and reliable tool for the observation and management of game in any terrain, Minox adds, and with its short shutter lag of just 1 second — and a battery life of over 6 months — the DTC 500 “is a very reliable companion out in the reserve.”

The 8-megapixel camera has an infrared flash with a range of up to 15 meters that “delivers reliable shots, even in unfavorable light or in twilight,” the company says.

It’s housed in a weatherproof plastic body that measures 6 by 4.5 by 2.6 inches.

The $349 camera tags each image with not just date and time but temperature and moon phase.

More information is here.




Droid X2 instantly autofocuses

With its continuous autofocus, Motorola says Droid X2 users will “never miss a moment.”

The camera phone also provides a new Gallery app to view, tag and post photos on sites such as Flickr and Facebook. Also, a Mirror Mode shows photos, videos and downloaded movies on a larger TV via HDMI output.

The new  Android 2 smartphone has an 8-megapixel camera with HD video recording, a  4.3-inch screen, and a 1GHz dual-core processor.

It’s $200 on contract from Verizon Wireless.



Sony smartens Augmented Reality technology

Sony says it has developed integrated “Smart” Augmented Reality that works without requiring markers such as 2D barcodes. An object captured by the camera is quickly recognized and can be tracked at high-speed along with the movement of the camera, the company says, as it is displayed over the actual 3D space.

“SmartAR” combines object recognition with proprietary 3D space recognition, which Sony says it developed for its Aibo and Qrio robots. SmartAR identifies objects by analyzing features detected from a portion of the image with their positional relationship. The feature matching employs a proprietary probabilistic method that matches local features with minimal calculations, Sony says. Recognition is possible even if the object captured appears to be comparatively small in the display.

Sony adds it will continue to experiment with SmartAR for services and business applications , including advertising and games.



3D simulation for plastic surgery

Considering a face lift? See what the results might be beforehand — in 3D.







“3D imaging is going to revolutionize the way that patients explore the possibility of plastic surgery and communicate with their surgeon beforehand,” says Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa. “Now patients can see their results in real time before they even decide to have plastic surgery.”

The system developed by Canfield Imaging of Fairfield, NJ takes a three-dimensional photograph of the patient with the Vectra 3D camera;  the surgeon then simulates the expected results of a variety of aesthetic procedures using the Sculptor 3D imaging software.

More information is here.



CCD co-inventor dies at 86

Willard S. Boyle shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics for the invention at Bell Labs of the charge-coupled device or CCD, the imaging sensor used in the first digital cameras (and many still today).

The photoelectric device was first conceived in the fall of 1969, and produced electrons that corresponded with light hitting silicon photocells.

More information is here.



Sharp develop 85-inch Super Hi-Vision LCD

Sharp claims a world first: a 85-inch direct-view LCD compatible with the next-generation television broadcast format, Super Hi-Vision.

The company worked with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), which R&D into higher resolution TV format in 1995, and aims to begin trial broadcasts in 2020. It has approximately 33 megapixels (7,680 by 4,320 pixels), or 16 times the resolution of HDTV.

The companies says  “the incredibly detailed images on the giant screen will immerse the viewer in a virtual-reality-like experience.”

The LCD will be shown to the public at NHK’s Science & Technology Research Laboratories in Tokyo, May 26–29.



Controlling noise reduction

NoiseControl removes image noise and other artifacts, claims developer  The Plugin Site, while keeping image edges and details intact and at the same time applies sophisticated sharpening without amplifying noise.

It distinguishes details from noise by performing “thousands of clever calculation per pixel,” the Nuremberg, Germany-based company says.

The software also offers saturation and grain features for enhancing the image after denoising. It can also apply denoising with extreme settings to create painting-like effects.

In order to selectively adjusting the denoising for various image areas, NoiseControl allows you to alter the denoising parameters in shadows, midtones, highlights and nine color areas of the image. These selective adjustments can be performed with the help of sliders or by clicking on the appropriate image area with the eyedropper tool and dragging left or right.

The Photoshop-compatible plug-in for Windows is $50.

More information is here.



OmniVision slims 5MP sensor

OmniVision Technologies announced its first 5-megapixel image sensor using its OmniBSI-2 architecture with a 1.4-micron backside illumination pixel, and a 1/4-inch optical format — with a 20 percent reduction in camera module height, the company says,  making it “an effective solution for slimmer mobile handsets, smart phones and tablet computers.”

Five-megapixel CMOS image sensors now comprise more than 15 percent of the overall sensor market today, the company adds, “occupying a sweet spot in the market.  Some industry analysts believe that market share may exceed 30 percent by 2014.”

The OV5690 CameraChip captures 1080p HD video, and has an integrated scaler that enables electronic image stabilization, and , and 2 by 2 binning functionality with re-sampling filter that minimizes spatial artifacts and removes image artifacts around edges, the company says, producing crisp color images for 720p/60 HD video.

The OV5690 is currently being sampled and mass production is expected to begin in the second half of 2011.



Resurgence in film use triggers processing service

“Photographers are returning to film in large numbers,” claims Photosmith Imaging, “Believe it or not.”

Since those large numbers aren’t quantified, we’ll be a little dubious — but at least this one photo lab is seeing large enough figures to offer a new online-based processing service.

“People frustrated with the impersonality and blandness of digital images have remembered what drew them to photography in the first place, personal control of expression and quality,” says the Dover, NH-based lab.

Noting that many local photo labs gone out of business, the company says these film photographers must look out of town for processing — and online. To meet these needs, the company launched its website, offering film developing by mail to Internet customers.

“It’s the best of the old and of the new,” says Steve Frank, owner of Photosmith Imaging for thirty years. “We are offering personalized service on a broader scale. And since the Internet lets us take our business nation-wide, we’re able to offer very competitive prices for film processing.”

The company aims to also create a community of people interested in photography—what the Main Street photo lab used to be. “We cater to people on a personal basis, the same as if you come in to our brick-and-mortar operation,” Frank says. On its Facebook page, photographers can meet each other and share images; there will also be a monthly contest for free processing.

Why shoot film, when digital is easier and cheaper? The company quotes customer Mark Stevens saying he appreciates the careful craft of film photography. “I’ll never stop shooting film. I love the process. It forces me to slow down and study the composition and light in each frame. I find it very relaxing to get back to the basics of photography, and it’s great to have to do the developing.”

For more on the many (re)turning to film — and debate whether it’s a retro or hipster craze — see CNet’s feature here.


Panasonic pinpoints autofocus

Panasonic says its new Lumix DMC-G3 “is the ideal hybrid, offering superb still and video capabilities with easy-to-use features, so users at any level can create professional-quality images.”

The camera is a light compact system camera, the company says, that is easy to use thanks to a tilting and rotating 3-inch screen that provides touch-control focus and shooting.

The G3 also features new “Pinpoint AF,” which Panasonic says allows “extremely precise near–pixel-level focus point setting at the touch of a finger.”

It has a 16-megapixel sensor, and also captures 1920 by 1080 HD video with stereo sound in AVCHD. A new image processor provides selective noise reduction to create a more naturally-balanced curve without deterioration of the image, the company says; “noise is significantly suppressed by more than 66 percent.”
The G3 is $700 with a 14-42mm zoom lens.

Panasonic also announced the 16-megapixel DMC-FH7, a compact camera with touch controls on its 3-inch screen.
The 4x optical zoom lens starts at a 28mm wide angle. It also captures 720p HD video at 24 frames per second.

More information on both cameras is here.



Painter “sets new standard for realism”

Painter 12 from Corel boasts “the most advanced and realistic digital painting and illustration tools” — and is 3–5 times faster than previous versions.

The $429 imaging software has new and improved “natural media” painting tools such as water color and wet oil. “These unique brushes recreate the liquidity and viscosity of flowing and blending paint, water, or solvent, and textures with a new and astounding level of realism,” the company says.

Also new are Kaleidoscope and Mandala painting features, which “enable artists to transform brushstrokes into a balanced spectrum of colorful shapes or blends.”

More information is here.




Dive down with HD

Tachyon says the 135-degree lens and high-dynamic light sensor in its Micro DiveCam “help you catch more of your underwater adventure than ever before”  — and now the underwater camera captures 720p HD video.

Tachyon says users of its $140 Micro video camera include professional fire and rescue dive teams, and the US Navy for training drills.

Lewisville, TX-based Tachyon officially tested the Micro at depths of 100 feet, but says it also works “down past 168 feet.”

The Micro HD weighs 4 ounces and mounts to a diving mask with the included goggle strap mount.